Tuesday, November 9, 2010

To My Mind… Halloween in Ukraine and Kyiv Take 2

I would like to take a quick poll: have you ever heard this phrase “to my mind” before? I had never heard this phrase before I moved to Ukraine, instead of using that phrase I would have used “I think that” or perhaps used the phrase “in my opinion”. I have found that “to my mind” is commonly used in Ukraine by English teachers and anyone who has studied English in Ukraine is familiar with this phrase. This is strange to me and everyone else in my cluster, but we suppose it must be a colloquial British English phrase. If you have any insight on this phrase, I would love to hear about it.

We celebrated our first American holiday in Ukraine by traveling to Обухів (Obuhov in Russian) for Halloween last weekend. Обухів is a town of about 40,000 people and many Peace Corps Trainees are located close by. We met up with about 20 PCTs from other towns and had fun hanging out with all together for the day. Ukrainians do not celebrate Halloween, but they do learn about it in school.

My claim to fame – I taught all the PCTs how to properly do the asian tourist pose.

First stop was the local park. I like the swings that they have here, they all have seat-backs (kind of like those red swings in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta).

Catherine and Nathan rocked out the spinning wheel thing.

Everybody loves a sandbox!

After the park, we decided to take a walk into the woods. Being in the woods was a nice change of pace since my town is mostly agricultural and we do not have any sort of woods or foresty areas nearby.

Chilling on a log in the woods.

The PCTs from around Obuhiuv plus Nicole.

Monica, Nathan and Catherine.

My friend Warren used his Eagle Scout skills to start a bonfire for us, with the help of Nitai and a couple of the other guys. I haven’t been to a bonfire in forever, I wish we had brought marshmellows to make s’mores! That would have been a fun American traditition to celebrate Halloween with.

Warren building the kindling into a little pyramid to start the fire. 
Nitai decided to take over and show us how to start a fire!

Nathan went foraging for firewood!
It was great getting to see some of my friends from the 40 Ѕ Staging group and meeting people from  the original Group 40 that staged a week before us. It was interesting to hear about everyone’s different experiences with their host families and teaching English!

Warren, Allyson, Katie, Cary, Monica and Laura.

Adam, Nicole, me, Nathan, Catherine and Nitai.
Gotta represent.
The standard jump photo (this was the best out of like 10 attempts, I’ve apparently gotten rusty at jumping since the summer).
Warren and Nitai, two of my good friends from Staging.

The 4 of us from my cluster!

Although we didn’t get to celebrate Halloween the traditional way with costumes and trick-or-treating, I told Nathan that he should be a Babushka (grandmother) for Halloween. Fun fact: the phrase “trick-or-treat” is apparently translated into Ukrainian as “candy-or-die!”

See? Nathan would make a great Babs, he just needs a few gold teeth.

We went to Kyiv again with our new Language Facilitator for bank day, which was fun but it made me a little nervous to walk around while carrying $2500 UAH in cash. We also went to visit the Peace Corps head office downtown.
Yay Peace Corps Ukraine!
Here are some more photos from walking around Kyiv. There were quite a few other PCT groups that went to Kyiv on Monday, and it was fun running into fellow Peace Corps people randomly around the city. We took the metro train a few more times and guess what? A young lady about our age was kind enough to give up her seat on the crowded train for Monica, since Monica is wearing a boot for her broken foot. That was a surprisingly nice gesture and definitely a Cultural Moment here in Ukraine!

This is contemporary art at its crunchiest… it is a cat made out of plastic forks!

I love the architecture of the older buildings in Kyiv.

We ran into Andrew and Avital while they were looking for the Golden Gate on their scavenger hunt.

 This is what is known as the Golden Gate. It is an old church and also has a metro stop nearby.

For lunch, we went to a little place called The Drum (or ??????????) and I had a cheeseburger and fries! Well, I guess this isn’t as exciting because I could have gotten a cheeseburger at McDonalds by the train station but this burger actually was pretty good.


We also picked up hard copies of the Kyiv Post in English at this restaurant!

We walked around Independence Square again and stopped by the big post office there so Monica could mail a parcel home. Actually, we had a small task assigned by our Langage Facilitator to take pictures of street signs and advertisements with endings in different grammatical cases, but those pictures are boring so I won't post them up here. 

Standing on top of the Globus shopping center and across the street from Independence Square.

 Did you know that they have mini coopers over here? This is the 1st one that  I’ve seen!

On the way home from Kyiv, we apparently bought tickets for the slow train that took us almost 5 hours to get back to our town. It should only have taken us 3 hours, but we kept stopping for 30 minute intervals. I have no idea why we kept stopping, the intercom was so fuzzy and I could only make out a few words in Russian (though they were probably speaking in Ukrainian anyways). It is hard to believe that it took us 5 hours to travel 100 km (or about 65 miles) because that is absolutely ridiculous. To top that, the train wasn’t heated so we were freezing in addition to being exhausted from walking around Kyiv all day.

Is that a bum on the train? Nope, its just Monica all bundled up!

But after I got home at like 11pm instead of 9pm as expected, my host mom told me that the route we took was longer than it appeared on the map at the train station. Nerd Alert: Maybe this is why I wasn't so good at Optimization, I should have found the shortest path by calculating the weight of each arc by distance instead of just eyeballing the number of stops shown on the map. Moral of the story: always consult your local Ukrainian host mom when it comes to traveling around Ukraine by public transportation!

Don't those two paths look about equal to you?


Angela said...

I have heard that phrase before, but it was from someone that was from the south

mostlypake said...

Yes, I've heard that phrase before, too. I've lived so many places, though, I'm not sure where it was....
Also, thanks for the pics! How fun!

Annie said...

Speaking of funny phrases - I totally told someone the other day "yeah I'll give you a missed call" haha. I miss Singapore!

Kelli B said...

hmm, I've never heard my dad say that phrase but I could ask him...

Oh, and the path on the right totally seems shorter. That's probably the one you took though because I'm horrible at estimating that sort of stuff.

Matt Ellen said...

You ask, we answer: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/81366/using-to-my-mind

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